Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Matthew: The Life and Martyrdom of Matthew

3. Matthew denotes one given by God. Also called Levi. A description of his person. Uncertain tradition concerning his death and martyrdom.

Moreover, Ματθαῖον/Matthewis a name of Hebrew origin, which, written מתי in Syriac, denotes given, bestowed by God. For what is found in the most learned Kirstenius’ de Vitis Evangelistarum[1]is not satisfying; the interpretation of his name is sought out of the Arabic in such a way that it sounds the same as אלמצטפי/Al-mastaphei, which signifies choice, illustrious, sincere. Now, he had two names. For, he is also called Λευὶν/Levi, that is, joined to, associated with God,[2]Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27. Born of his father Alphaeus, before his calling a notorious publican, καθήμενον ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον, sitting at the receipt of custom, Matthew 9:9; but after his calling a noble Apostle and Evangelist, he exercised himself in the most joyous preaching of grace altogether free: he was a diligent hearer of Christ’s doctrine, an attentive and sedulous spectator of Christ’s works and miracles, and finally an altogether faithful observer and eyewitness of His passion, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven. But, after he was anointed by the Holy Spirit with the gifts of Christ on the day of Pentecost, he eagerly undertook the Apostolic office, initially by preaching the Gospel with living voice, then by committing the same to writing also: at length proceeding from Judea into Ethiopia, he won many for Christ. Concerning his death we have nothing certain to say. An Ancient Arabic Codex, out of which Kirstenius wrote the lives of the Evangelists, relates that he suffered martyrdom, that is, was crushed by stones, במרינה בשברי, in the city of Beschberi, which by others, Venantius Honorius Clementianus,[3] book 8 de gaudiis et spe vitæ æternæ, is elsewhere called Naddaber.[4] Others assert that he, after he had raised the son of King Æglippus from the dead, and had converted the King and people by this miracle, was decapitated in Ethiopia, in the City of Naddaber, by Hyrtacus, the next King; in this they rely upon the witness of Abdias, translated by Julius Africanus from Hebrew.[5] But Nicephorus,[6] Historia Ecclesiastica, book II:41, narrates that he died among the Cannibals in the city of Myrmene, fixed to the earth with nails.

[1]Petrus Kirstenius (1577-1640) was a Polish physician and orientalist, noted particularly for his abilities in Arabic. De Vitis Evangelistarum was the work of an ancient Arabic author, published by Kirstenius. [2]See Genesis 29:34: “And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined (יִלָּוֶה) unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi (לֵוִי).” [3]Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (c. 530-c. 600) was a Christian poet, associated with the Merovingian Court, and later Bishop of Poitiers. [4] Naddaber was a city in Asiatic Ethiopia, near India. [5]It is purported that Abdias was one of the Seventy, and the first bishop of Babylon. The Historia Certaminis Apostolici, bearing his name, and containing legendary material about the Apostles, claims to have been translated into Greek by a Eutropius, a disciple of Abdias, and then into Latin by Julius Africanus (c. 160-c. 240). However, it was probably written in the tenth century. [6]Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos was a fourteenth century Greek ecclesiastical historian.

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